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Entrust the Uncertainty of Future into the Father’s Will (Guest Post)

Life is a gift from God that must be lived with responsibility.  Making good planning is part of carrying out that responsibility.  If so, why did James rebuke Christians who make plans?  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  (James 4: 13)

The Letter of James was addressed to Jews who have become Christians and live outside the land of Israel.  Some of them work as traders who usually go from one city to another and live there for some time to do business.  These cities might have been Antioch, Damascus, or Alexandria, which at the time were large cities visited by trade.  So there is nothing wrong when they say: “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Then, what is the reason James rebuked them?  Verse 14 tells us:  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 

James told about two facts of humans, namely humans don’t know what will happen tomorrow and describe human life like mist.  Mist expresses uncertainty, mortal, futile, brief, momentary.  Mist, fog, smoke, or whatever they are called, only appear for a moment and then disappear into the wind.  That is human life in this world.  Now we know that the planners in verse 13 have ignored two things.  The first is human limitations which automatically limits their knowledge of tomorrow.  The second is the uncertainty in a short life in this world.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Friday afternoon in mid-January, my husband and I were going to get ready for church service when my cell phone rang.  I felt strange because the phone call came from my mother who was sleeping in her room on the 2nd floor of our house. Why did mom call me while she knew that we were at home with her?

I answered the call, then my mother’s voice was heard, “Help me, I’m sick.”  We immediately went upstairs and found my mother was already pale and sweating, groaning in pain while touching her chest.  Apparently my mother had called out our name but we didn’t hear.  Thank God there was a cellphone nearby so she could call us.

We immediately took her to the emergency room at a hospital and the doctor immediately ordered my mother to be treated at the ICCU (Intensive Chest Care Unit).  Then the hospital staff asked my husband and I to go to a corridor and asked us to knock on one of the doors there, while my mother was pushed on a hospital bed through another door.  Then we knocked on the door that was intended and was met by a cardiologist.  For about 10 minutes the doctor explained to us about my mother’s condition.  After that the doctor asked us to get out of the room then after that the door was closed.  I don’t have the chance to see my mom again and I don’t have the chance to say anything to each other!  We were really surprised and could hardly believe that the situation was changing so fast.  I remember this afternoon my mother walked around in the mall, cheerful, and looked healthy.  But this night she lay in pain and weak at ICCU.

For several weeks since that night, all our plans were in disarray because we had to stay in hospital all day. All our service schedules in the church must be canceled, a lot of work must be postponed, and the rhythm of our lives totally changed. A few days later we were told by the cardiologist that that night they were racing against time. The doctor said that one of the things that helped my mother’s life was that we immediately took her to the hospital in no more than 3 hours after a heart attack. The doctor said that if more than 3 hours the risk of death will be greater.

When we roll back the incident, we are grateful for several things: we were at home when the heart attack occurred, the road to the hospital at that time wasn’t jammed even though usually always jammed, also the emergency room didn’t have many patients (usually there were very many patients) so we didn’t need to queue and my mother could be treated immediately. On reflection, I realize that all the things we are grateful for are things that are beyond human control and knowledge.

That experience reminds us of 3 things. First, humans have no power over time. Second, humans do not have power over everything outside themselves. Third, humans do not have power over themselves, especially over their lives. If so, what is the reason for humans to boast and feel confident that they can manage their future without God ?? There is no!!!

So, it is really appropriate that in verse 14 James writes “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”  The word “you” that used in this sentence in the original language has a qualitative meaning: “creatures like you” or “human being like you.”  In other words, James was conveying, “How can mortal beings and not knowing the meaning of life like you dare to feel confident that you can manage the future ?!”  So, in this context the mistake isn’t about making a plan, but the heart attitude of the plan makers.

Then what should be the attitude of our hearts?

SURRENDER TO THE FATHER’S WILL

James advises in verse 15: Actually you have to say: Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  This statement has the meaning “if my plan is in accordance with God’s plan” or “if what I want is the same as what God wants” or “if it is in accordance with God’s will.”

Jesus Christ set an example for us when He struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion.  Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matt. 26:39).  Jesus’ will is the cup of suffering taken away from Him, but He submitted His will to the will of the Father.  Jesus also taught us a prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6: 9-13)  A heart that surrenders to the the Father’s will like Jesus which we must have when we make plans for our future.

Surrender to the Father’s will doesn’t mean we are only passive and do not make any plans.

Surrender to the Father’s will means allowing Him to intervene in our plans and realize His will in our lives, even if it means changing our own original plan.

A correct understanding that God’s will alone is sovereign over us, will help us not to be trapped in an attitude of confidence in ourselves in looking at the future. Unfortunately the planners in verse 13 didn’t realize this. They rely more on their own strength and wisdom in making their plans, as James wrote in verse 16, “As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”  In the original language, “evil” is a word that in other parts of the Bible can mean Satan.  Therefore we must learn to humble before God and acknowledge His sovereignty over our lives.  If we boast, we will find it difficult to bow down to God’s will, because we will assume that our plans are the best and will definitely succeed.  This is dangerous for ourselves, because actually we know nothing about our future.

DO THE FATHER’S WILL

Human life always has a mystery, which is the future. The future isn’t always far from us, but it can only be one second after our breath now.

Look at the rich man in the parable told by the Lord Jesus in Luke 12: 16-21.  It is told about a rich person who feels his life is safe and secure for years to come.  Maybe he had made various plans to enjoy his wealth, but he didn’t know that God would take his life that night. One of the aspects of humanity presented in this parable is that human life is limited by time and no one knows for sure when that time will end.  That’s the uncertainty of life.  So, how we must always surrender to the will of our Father, God and Creator, the only fully sovereign God of the breath of every human life.

As humans who are given intelligence and conscience by God, we can indeed make a good plan.  We can develop a calculated plan with our education, experience, skills, knowledge, connections and wealth.  However, a plan that is self-reliant and not submitted under the perfection of God’s will will only be an uncertainty because we have no idea about tomorrow.  We might be able to predict and exert all our energy to realize the things we want, but there is no guarantee what the reality will be.  Our own plans may work, but only plans from God can bring us to the true meaning of life in Christ.

Now let’s return to the rhetorical question of James in verse 14, “What is your life?”   The word “life” used in verse 14 is derived from the word “zoe”.  Life that uses the word “zoe” is the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God. to live in all the maximum capacity according to God’s blueprint for those who put trust in Christ.  Conversely, if we rely on ourselves, we will lose the main essence of life and only live the futility of a short life like mist in this world.

A question for us to think about: Do we want to live our lives in the fullness of Christ or are we just like mist?!

At this time . . .   every one of us must have plans for our future.  If we long to live the fullness of life in Christ, then allow the Omnipotent and Omniscient Father to intervene in each of our plans to be aligned with His perfect will.  Let’s entrust the uncertainty of our future into the hands of the Father, because He is the only definite assurance for our lives.  Amen

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pxhere.com ) edited with pixlr apps

White Christmas

Hello my dear readers!! It’s me again. I’m grateful to God in this Christmas season I could write a short post to my blog and this post is the closing post for this year. I would like to thank to all faithful readers and follower who always give big support to my blog through like or comment on my posts. I really, really appreciate it. I hope and pray this blog will continue to sharing God’s blessing through God’s word.

Every time before Christmas comes, besides decorating Christmas tree and the whole house with various beautiful Christmas decorations, my parents also took out their collection of Christmas song vinyl records. One of their favorite Christmas song is “White Christmas” They said, though White Christmas isn’t a hymn Christmas song, the legendary “White Christmas” song could successfully bring Christmas atmosphere especially when the snow has come. All is white! Tree, house, land, and other will covered with white color and white is always used as a symbol of cleanliness and even holiness.

Dear readers, what were my parents said reminds me to the great Bible figure, David. Davis was known as a figure who was very close with God. But at one time he fell so deep into the sin by doing a series of despicable acts. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, lied, and the killed Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. The series of actions that David made in a row suddenly turned him into a very cruel figure and he was unaware that his actions were dominated by lust. He was ruled by sin. Bible said that what he did was considered evil in God’s eyes. Then God sent Nathan to warn David. When confronted with his transgressions, fortunately David didn’t dodge to defend himself. Bravely David admitted, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13a) and Nathan said to David, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” (2 Samuel 12:13) although there were still consequences of what David did, God gave a guarantee of forgiveness to David.

From what happened, David wrote Psalm 51. He wrote very deep series of poem of sin confession, repentance, and pleading for God’s forgiveness. One of them said:

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

(Psalm 51:7)

My beloved readers, Christmas is a moment we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ to the world as the greatest gift and grace from God to atone our sins and bring us out of the death to enter the eternal life. In this Christmas moment, allow me to encourage all of us to celebrate Christmas day not only by a party, give a Christmas gift to our loved ones, or take a Christmas holiday but let’s make Christmas as a moment to sanctify us, confess all of our sins, and ask God to forgive and cleanse our hearts. God said to us,

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. (Isaiah 1:16)

And when we do that, God said

“…Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

God is always ready to give us forgiveness, even to restore joy when we turn from evil ways to His ways. God will whiten a very red sin as white as snow. Pure white snow is very beautiful in welcoming Christmas, but please remember, it’s not about white snow, but the most important in this Christmas day is our heart and soul as white and as clean as snow. And our lives will still in holiness because God said to us, “Be holy, because I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16) Let’s have a white Christmas.

On behalf of our family, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year 2020

Make the season bright with holiness, peace, joy, love, and hope in God. Amen

Karina Lam

Living by faith.

Image source: google images

I am Thanking you, God

 

Hello my beloved readers, I just want to say “Happy Thanksgiving” to all of my faithful readers and follower.  Allow me to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a poem. I hope and pray this poem can be a reminder for us to always giving thanks to our beloved God.

Dear God:

I want to thank you for what you have already done

I am not going to wait until I see results, or receive rewards;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief;

I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed;

I am thanking you right now.

I am thanking you because I am alive

I am thanking you because I made it through the day’s difficulties.

I am tanking you because I have walked around the obstacles.

I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to more and do better.

I am thanking you because FATHER, YOU haven’t given up on me.

1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

Psalm 69:30: “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”

 

Karina  Lam – Living by faith

Crossmap

Image source: Bible study tools

A God’s Message in a Flower (Guest Post)

On the edge of the road in front of my house, there is a tree.  In certain seasons, the blooming flowers are scattered on the ground and also on the hood of our car that we park under the tree. For years, I had never really paid attention to the flower, until one morning I casually picked it up and watched it closely.

The flower is very small.  The size is only as big as the nail of my thumb.  The shape is similar to orchids but in a mini version. The flower has 4 soft greenish-white petals and 3 bright yellow corolla that decorated with the reddish orange graffiti that twists beautifully, like the ink strokes of a reliable painter.  At the center, there are pistils and green stamens, the tip is round brownish red.  Mini flower appearance is so beautiful.  Regrettably, such beautiful flowers must be scattered on the ground, trampled by people passing by and run over by the wheels of passing vehicles.

This beautiful flower isn’t the kind of expensive flower that people hunt for collections, it isn’t the type of flower that the bride and groom buy to decorate the wedding hall, and not the type of flower arranged in a vase to beautify the banquet table.  Its name isn’t as popular as roses, jasmine, orchids, or other flowers known to many people.  Its size is small, so its beautiful appearance will not be exposed if we don’t carefully.  It’s just a tiny flower that grows, blooms, then falls to the ground, and maybe not many are interested in admiring its beauty or knowing its usefulness.  Then, for what does God dress the flowers in such detail and beauty ?!

Stay Loved even though We don’t Deserve to be Loved

God’s detailed and beautiful work on the small flower shows that God pays attention and expresses His creativity to all of His creations.  There is no creation that is worthless. There are no useless creations.  There is no creation that is created only for vanity, even more so humans for whom Jesus was even willing to sacrifice His life.

While we were still helpless [powerless to provide for our salvation], at the right time Christ died [as a substitute] for the ungodly.   Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to willingly give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a good man [one who is noble and selfless and worthy] someone might even dare to die.  But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5: 6-8  AMP)

Jesus died for us not because we are godly, righteous people, obeying God’s laws, and have good qualities and good character.  On the contrary, we were people who did not respect God, opposed God, did not even believe in God and were full of evil.  In such an unworthy situation, Jesus loves us.  In fact, God immediately revealed His redemptive plan only shortly after the first man fell into sin: “And I will put enmity (open hostility) between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her [e]Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3: 15 AMP)

It was the protevangelium, the first gospel message in the history of mankind, when the Lord gave His promise about the Savior.  At the time the word was spoken, we didn’t yet exist in this world.  There is no guarantee from ourselves, that we will be a good people and appreciate His sacrifice.  In fact, from centuries to centuries many people actually rejected and mocked Him.  God has known all of that from the beginning.  But, God still loves humans and is willing to die for humans.  How great is God’s love for humans, for us.

We don’t need to prove that we are worthy and deserve to be loved.

We have been loved by God from the beginning.

We have been valuable to God from the beginning.

God’s love for us isn’t based on reasons that comes from within us.  God’s love for us comes from God himself.  So, the reason why God loves us is because He loves us!

The problem is that we often judge ourselves based on the values that others attach to us.  We measure ourselves and others based on certain measurements that we or others consider as important things.  These measures can be physical appearance, branded stuff, type of car, position, intelligence, luxury of the house, the amount of balance in the bank, the number of followers on social media, and various other things that invite admiration from others.  We feel superior when we have something we think is higher than someone else’s, and feel inferior when we feel that what we have is lower than someone else’s.  Finally, we try hard so as not to be looked down on by others.  In fact, when we think like that, actually we are looking down on ourselves.

Even worse, we unconsciously apply the same perspective to God.  We think God will love us more if we are more active in ministry, make more offerings, read God’s words more often, pray longer, try to be more obedient and do things that we think will please God.

Yes, of course . . . Serving God, giving offerings, reading God’s word, praying, trying to obey, and doing things that we think will please God are very good.  But, please don’t do all that with a reverse understanding, which is to be loved by God.  Why?  Because on the cross God has poured out all His love, completely.  His love for us is eternal and perfect.  Again, His eternal and perfect love is given to us when we are still sinful and unworthy to be loved!

There is no Reason to Feel Worthless and Unloved

Now, let’s return for a moment to a beautiful little flower that falls scattered on the ground, which I have told at the beginning of this article.  The flower is flower of the Tamarind tree.  The Tamarind Flower is not the main focus of the Tamarind tree.  This is really different from the Rose, Jasmine, Orchid, Lilly, or other types of flowers that are deliberately planted and cultivated to get the flowers.  What people are looking for from the Tamarind tree is the Tamarind fruit, not the flower.  In fact, in my place, Tamarind leaves are more needed by people than Tamarind flowers.  In addition, the size of the Tamarind flower is extremely small compared the natural height of the Tamarind tree can reach 30 meters, so that the flower is barely exposed, not prominent, and even tends to be ignored.  However, God dressed the little flower with detail and beauty.  It is as if God conveyed His message through the flower, that God cares for and loves all of His creation, and each part has been designed with the best design, not carelessly.

The God who created and dressed the small flower is God who said “it was very good” after He finished creating humans in His own image.  That is what God says about us. Therefore . . . however our face looks, our body shape, our weight, our height, no matter how bad our past is, whatever our educational background, no matter how low our social or economic status. . . Don’t be inferior and feel worthless.  Instead, let us not be arrogant because we feel more beautiful, richer, more educated, more respectable, and so on, because we are all the same!!!

We all have THE SAME PAST, a SINNER!

We are REDEEMED by THE SAME BLOOD, the BLOOD OF JESUS.

We accept THE SAME LOVE, that is the LOVE OF THE FATHER who was willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son.

We all DON’T DESERVE to be INSECURE or ARROGANT!

All we have to do is be GRATEFUL.

We should not do good to others to be more blessed by God, but let’s do it because we are grateful for the goodness of God that has been given to us and we long to be His witnesses and glorify His name.  Let us not worship and serve God’s work with the aim of being loved more by God, but let’s do it because we love God who first loved us.

The God who created the whole universe is our Father.  He is a good, planned, and responsible Father.  He works in us in detail and perfect. We aren’t a mass product.  Each of us is created unique, beautiful, special.  So, there is no reason for us to feel worthless and unloved!

The Lord is good to all,

And His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created].

All Your works shall give thanks to You and praise You, O Lord,

And Your godly ones will bless You.

(Psalm 145: 9-10 AMP)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( unsplash.com ) edited with pixlr apps

A SAFE FEELING IN THE FATHER’S LOVE (guest post)

Today, the awareness of believers to be active in ministry is growing up.  In fact, some positions in ministry become something that is desired and proud of.  Whether we realize it or not, all activities in serving God has taken up a lot of time and energy, and is sometimes seen as more important than God himself.  As a result, many servants of God actually lose something more important and valuable. . . something from which the ministry comes out, that is a personal relationship with the God being served!

How important and valuable something is to us is reflected in how we treat it.

The Lord Jesus illustrated this through three parables in Luke chapter 15.  Jesus gave a parable about sheep, drachma and sons, which was important and valuable in the lives of the Jews at that time.  The number of sheep has indicates the amount of wealth and social rank, the drachma is the wage for one day, and the son is the successor to the descendants who continue the family inheritance.  When these things are gone, the owner will try to find it with all his efforts and will rejoice when he finds it back.

In the parable of the son in Luke 15: 11-32, the Lord Jesus tells the story of the father with his two sons, the younger and the older.  The younger asked for his inheritance, sold it all, then left and squandered his money to waste.  When he fell into poverty and hunger, he remembered his father and decided to go home.  His father, who had been waiting for him, immediately received him back and restored his position unconditionally, even holding a party to celebrate him.  The older was angry because he felt he had spent years to serve his father, work hard and tried to obey every command of his father, but was not heeded.  While his younger brother who acted poorly was welcomed in a special way.

Looking at verses 1 and 2, there are two groups of listeners in this parable.  The first group are tax collectors and sinners who usually come to hear Jesus’ teachings.  The second group are the Pharisees and the scribes.  The Younger is a depiction of tax collectors and sinners, while the older is a description of the scribes and Pharisees, those who feel they have done many things for God, feel they have done the right thing.

These two groups have in common, that is, they are not related to the father.  Naturally, if the younger loses relations with his father.  But what about the older?  How can a person who always stays in his father’s house, obeys orders and works hard in his father’s years, lose intimacy with his father?  It was seen from his reaction when he saw what his father had done to welcome his brother’s return.

“The older brother became ANGRY and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even A YOUNG GOAT so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when THIS SON OF YOURS who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill THE FATTENED CALF for him!’  (Luke 15: 28-30 NIV)

His first reaction was ANGRY.  He didn’t rejoice together with his father, even calling the younger as ‘THIS SON OF YOURS’, not ‘my brother’.  And, pay attention to the comparison of the words he uses, namely ‘THE FATTENED CALF’, which the father slaughtered for his younger brother, compared to ‘A YOUNG GOAT’ which according to him has never been given by his father to him, even though he has worked hard.  Implied envy and disappointment in his sentences.

Today, the older are people who know many of God’s words, are strict with various religious rules, and may be someone who is active in the ministry in the church, but unconsciously they have lost their personal relationship with the Father.  When we are easily triggered by anger, easily disappointed with God, disappointed with friends in the ministry, jealous of the blessings received by others, begin to measure what the Father should be given by what we have done in ministries, and lose love for others… maybe without us knowing we have lost our personal relationship with Heavenly Father.  Maybe we are the older who lost in the Father’s house.  Now is the time to return the position of our hearts to their proper place, which is in the presence of the Heavenly Father.

A ministry should come from the relationship between the child and Heavenly Father and be filled with the love of Christ.

A service that isn’t sourced from a relationship with Heavenly Father will only be an activity and busyness that will increasingly dry our spirituality.  When this happens, we will begin to calculate our efforts in God’s field and become disappointed when God doesn’t give us what we want.

THE PERFECT LOVE

Back to the parable of the prodigal son.  Does the Father love the younger more than the older, so the Father has a party to celebrate the return of the younger?  Or does the Father love the older because he is an obedient son who serves faithfully in the Father’s field?  The answer to both questions is NO.  The Father’s love is perfect love, not because of what we do or what we don’t, but because He loves us, as we are, even when we are sinners, so that He is willing to give His most precious possession, His Only Son, Jesus Christ.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8 NIV) 

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8: 32 NIV)

We are people who are loved by the Father.  Have “a safe feeling” in the Father’s love.  We must not think that we must “do this and not do that” so that we are more loved by the Father or that the Father will grant our prayers.  Instead, we should not assume that if our prayers are answered, it is because we have served, fasted, did good, and so on.  If the Father blesses or if our prayers are answered, it is because the Father loves us.  And… If the Father doesn’t fulfill our prayers, it’s also because the Father loves us.

Look at the younger.  When the younger back home, the father immediately restores his rights and status as sons and heirs, without the younger having to prove to the father by his actions in advance that he has repented.  There is no guarantee that he will no longer do shameful things to his father.  That is the love of the Father, that is the perfect love, the unconditional love.

A REFLECTION OF LIFE

The younger and the older are both losing relations and intimacy with the Father.  The younger who is a depiction of sinners who have not been saved, or it can also be people who have received salvation but choose to leave God for the sake of the world.  The older who is a depiction of God’s children who actively works in God’s fields and knows many of God’s words, but loses fellowship with the Father and does not know the character of the Father.  What does it mean all the toil in ministry when losing intimacy with the Heavenly Father!

Enthusiastic and active in the ministry is good, but it is really a shame if the busyness in serving God’s work makes us not have enough time to build a personal relationship with God.  We must view building a relationship with Heavenly Father as far more valuable than serving His work, because ministry should come out of intimacy with the Father and come from the love of the Father.

The Father has shown us how valuable and serious the restoration of relationship between Himself and humans is, so that the Father is willing to give Jesus to atone for sins, so that human can fellowship with Him.  Let us respond to the seriousness of the Father with the same attitude of heart, which is to place a personal relationship with Him above all else.  Let’s look at the relationship with the Heavenly Father as something valuable, something that we look forward to, we look for, we maintain, and become our joy.

When we are confronted with all kinds of problems and conditions in this world, let us always remember the high price paid by the Father to restore His relationship with us.  When we want to make a decision in life, let the main factor in our consideration be whether that decision will result in the deterioration of our personal relationship with our Father.  Let’s be Christians and servants of Christ who have a deep personal relationship with the Heavenly Father, know Him, and always feel ‘safe’ in the Father’s love that has been proven in the work of Christ, so that by His grace and by His strength, we can say:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Roma 8: 35, 38-39)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( unsplash.com ) edited with pixlr apps

 

A Man Crying

Hello my beloved readers! I’m grateful to God finally I could spend my time to write my own post again. This post inspired by a conversation between my husband and his friend some time ago. I hope and pray this post could be a blessing to all of us. Thank you very much to the all loyal readers who always visit and read my blog posts.

“As the only man and the eldest brother in family, I shouldn’t show my grief and shouldn’t cry. A mam must be strong!! This word came out from a best friend of my husband who some time ago just lost his beloved mother. Then my husband said, “But actually you are very sad and want to cry, right?”  My husband’s friend replied, “I cannot lie to myself. Yes, actually I am very sad and want to cry to express my sorrow. But you know, since childhood my parents have taught that men should be strong and should not be whiny.”

My dear friends, I kept quiet during the conversation. Those conversations made me thinking and ponder. There was something I didn’t agree of my husband’s friend’s statement. I didn’t agree that a man shouldn’t show his sorrow and shouldn’t cry. I just feel that a man as if made from iron and wire like a robot that didn’t have feeling at all. In fact, the same as women, men could face a similar situation. Death, pain, loss, and various other things that can make a man feel sad. And all of them need a way to express their feeling.

Talk about crying, I remembered one of David saying when he got deep distress. Let’s see what David said at the time. “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8) At the time, the Israelites were using a bottle as a container for water or milk. Other than that, there was a unique culture that comes from Egyptians where they contain their tears into the bottle and then put it on the grave of their family or brethren as an expression of their grief. Well, I will not talk about the culture but I want to talk about David’s word.

We all know very well who David was. Though David was a man who was brave facing the lion, a man who was very brave against Goliath and successfully defeated him, and finally become a king, it turns out, he didn’t ashamed to cry. Why David crying? At that time David was under great pressure because besides being on the run to be chased by King Saul who was jealous with him, he faced another danger of entering the enemy territory of the Philistines in Gath and he was arrested. In the stressful situation, David didn’t look that crying is something shameful to do. He cried just because his mind was depressed but not because he weak. David cried not because he was afraid. Let’s take a look to the following verse,

When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid….” (Psalm 56: 9-11)

These verses are proof that even though David cried it doesn’t mean he became weak and afraid and his faith remained strong. Although he was crying, David remained steadfastly surrendering his life to God, and still fully believed that God remained with him.

So, whether a man shouldn’t cry? Is crying a symbol of Men’s weakness? My dear readers, allow me to take all of you to reflect on these three things.

First, in my whole life I have never found a rule of life or laws that forbids a man to cry or crying for a man is a disgrace! There’s no single verse in the Bible stated that a man shouldn’t cry. Even Jesus was crying (Luke 19:41) My husband said that, “Crying is how your heart speaks the pain you feel when your lips can’t” So I say firmly, there’s nothing wrong if a man cries and a man doesn’t need be ashamed and feel weak when he cries. The important thing is, when a man cries, his faith doesn’t weaken. David was crying because he was totally under pressure but didn’t mean his faith weakening. At that time David still believed God was by his side. The wrong one is, when a man crying then it makes his faith weaken, weaken his mental, and made he didn’t dare to face all the problems of life.

The second, Actually God doesn’t require us to pretend to be strong even though inside of us are broken. He knows suffering is painful, and for that He is ready to be with us through those painful time. God doesn’t forbid us to have sad feeling. God doesn’t scold us when we crying. My husband’s friend just lost his beloved father. God Himself also definitely understands very well what it feels like to lose. God knows it feels hurt because He also experienced hurt when He let His only begotten Son died to redeem our sins in the cruel ways.

The third, crying because our suffering and sadness isn’t a waste thing. Why? Because actually God know every single teardrop that flows from our eyes. God really understands the tears language which expresses unbearable suffering and bitterness of life. Not only understand, God also collect and record every single of our tears as David said. “… Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8) This verse shows us one important thing that God actually never leaves us alone. Even when we feel like “abandoned by God”, indeed, God doesn’t leave us. God is on collecting and taking note every tears of our crying and as if He said, “My child, I will never leave you alone…Please be patient… Just a little more time will be fulfilled and I will declare my glory”

My beloved readers, through this post allow me once again to express my opinion that there’s nothing wrong at all if a man crying. Crying isn’t a taboo thing for a man. Crying isn’t a symbol of weakness of a man. Beside mind, character, intelligence, and feeling, God also give man tears. As long as a man has feeling, same as a woman, when the lips isn’t able to speaks, crying is a good way to express our sorrow. Crying is the way our heart speaks. But… We must remember that behind our weeping there’s still strength in us. Behind every single teardrop there’s still a firm faith, there’s still strong trust that God will never leave us alone. We have to always remember God’s promises,

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17)

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21)

At the end of this post, I long to encourage all of men that there’s nothing wrong at all if one day you have to crying and there are compelling reasons why you cry. Not just for women, crying is something normal and humane. Don’t ever feel ashamed to express your feeling through crying. Crying doesn’t mean weak. Cry if it can make you relieved and the burden on you is lighter. But let me remind you one thing, don’t be a whiny man. Like David, keep strong, still have firm faith, and keep trusting God that He will wipe every of our tears as He promises, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Amen.

 

Karina Lam – Living by Faith

Image source: themanmodern.com

 

 

BEAR FRUIT FOR CHRIST (guest post)

A few months ago I wrote about the Tamarind tree in front of my house that the leaves and fruit can be used as a spice for traditional dishes and drinks (click here).  The tree is large and very tall, far beyond the roof of our house.  In the rainy season the leaves always grow vigorously and in summer the ripe fruit will fall to the ground.  It’s really fun to pick it up.  I feel like a happy farmer who harvests his work, whereas in fact I have never done anything for the growth of the tree.  In fact, the tree grows by itself.  For dozens, maybe even decades, the tree grew without anyone watering or weeding the surrounding soil.  During that time the tree continued to live and bear fruit.  However, this year something is different.

As in previous years, I was waiting for the ripe tamarind to fall on the ground.  How happy I am, when the wind blows hard and hit the branches of the tree and then heard the distinctive sound of ripe tamarind fruit falling on the ground.  However, immediately my excitement turned to be disappointed because the fruit that looks good on the outside is actually rotten inside.  Why?  What’s wrong?  I looked at the tamarind tree.  The trunk is large and tall, looks tough and strong.  Dense fruit hanging from its branches.  The tree looks healthy and there is no problem, but why is the fruit not as good as the tree’s appearance?  There must be something inside of the tree that isn’t working as it should, because fruit is the result of internal processes.

The condition of the tamarind fruit shows that not always something looks good from the outside, as well as the quality inside.  Likewise with fruit in human life.  People can arrange their outward appearance to create the impression they want, for example to be seen as generous, loving, kind and pious.  But sooner or later, the quality of “the fruit of the person’s life” will show his true spiritual condition.  Regarding this, the Lord Jesus taught through a parable about the tree and fruit.

No GOOD tree bears bad FRUIT, nor does a bad tree bear GOOD FRUIT.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.  People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A GOOD MAN brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  (Luke 6: 43-45 NIV)

What is a GOOD tree and GOOD fruit? What is the meaning of FRUIT in human life?  And what kind of people are categorized as A GOOD MAN who brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart?

FRUIT

The fruit comes from the word “karpos” which figuratively means: Everything done in true partnership with Christ, that is a believer lives in union with Christ, like a branch abides in the vine in order to bear fruit.  Christ lives in us and we live in Him so that His life flows through our lives and we produce eternal fruit.  So, the fruit in the life of a believer isn’t all achievements or successes in the world, but what is come out from intimacy with Christ, namely the character of Christ, which continues to be shaped and tested through various life processes.

GOOD

In this passage the word “GOOD” comes from words that contain the meaning: Inspire or motivate others, as an outward sign of the inward good, a noble attitude and honorable character.  In Greek there are several words to describe “good”.  The word “good” in this verse is the higher word, namely “kalon“, which broadly contains the notion of physical or moral beauty that arises as a result of an appropriate response to a process.

The word “good” used for fruit is the same as the word “good” used for trees.  So, tree and fruit should have the same quality.  Not “good” that is just make up but sourced from within.  Its outside appearance reflects the beauty inside.  No manipulation, no acting, no cheating, no fake.  A quality that naturally arises from within, not artificial.

A GOOD FRUIT is not AN EFFORT but A RESULT

Return to the tamarind tree, its disappointing fruit indicates that there is a process inside the tree that isn’t working as it should.  Maybe bad weather is the main cause.  Maybe it’s also because parts in the roots or trunks of the tree don’t function optimally so it can’t distribute nutrients properly.  Whatever it is, once again, fruit is the result of internal processes and the quality of the fruit shows the quality of the tree.  Therefore the most important thing is to ensure the conditions inside, then good fruit will be produced.

REMAIN IN CHRIST

Fruit always impressive because that’s what people see.  But don’t focus on the fruit.  Focus on our spiritual growth.  The key is to build an ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, like branches that must remain in the vine.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15: 4 NIV)

Let’s start with a step: Pray and read God’s words every day.  Then do God’s word in every day of our lives in all conditions.  That’s what it means to remain in Christ.  The life of Christ flows in and through us so that what comes out of us comes from Christ.  Only by remain in Christ, we will bear the fruit of life that pleases God.  Only by remain in Christ, we will become A GOOD PEOPLE who brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart: those whose hearts have been touched and changed by Christ, believers whose lives are empowered by Christ through faith.

Remain in Christ will make our characters, paradigms, values, habits, even our dreams and goals, increasingly transformed into Christ and become like Christ.  That’s the fruit of life with eternal value.  Then. . . if one day we achieve certain achievements, success in career, become rich, or become famous, we will know that all of it is a gift and trust from God.  All of achievements will not backfire for us because our hearts have been changed by God.  And, even if God allows all of that to be lost from us, our faith and hope will not be lost because we have put our faith and hope in the right place, which is Christ.  Our faith and hope in Christ will carry us through day after day in joy and sorrow, in good or bad situations, until we meet face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Vine where we remain throughout our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pxhere.com ) edited with pixlr apps